Hailing out of Aledo, Illinois, Susan Kay Bogguss was born on December 30, 1956 as the youngest of four sibling to an army officer from WWII. As a child, she learned to play the piano through her grandmother, as well as sing in the Angel Choir of the College Avenue Presbyterian Church in her hometown. In addition to singing and playing the piano, she was also encouraged to learn drums. When she was a teenager, she also learned guitar. As a youth, she used to visit Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in their Apple Valley, California home as they attended the same church as her grandparents did. While in high school, she starred in several musicals and was also crowned homecoming queen. When she graduated in 1975, she enrolled at a university in Illinois, later graduating in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in metalsmithing. Later, she used these skills to design her own line of jewelry.
Small towner Suzy Bogguss didn’t realize while growing up that people could make actually make a decent living playing music. She sang, played guitar, as well as drums, at local coffee houses during her time in college before embarking on a nationwide tour after graduating from university. Her musical influence at the time was Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, and James Taylor. It would be during this time she recorded and produced her first independent album simply titled, Suzy. Whenever she performed at live shows at the beginning of her career she had these albums available for purchase. They are now regarded as rare collector’s items. When she toured in 1984, Bogguss observed she spent most of her money on later shows, not to mention she had no health insurance, not enough car insurance, and low chances of becoming more successful as a performer.
This prompted her to move to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1985. On the day she arrived in the city she already picked up a job at a restaurant. While in Nashville, she performed at a three-day audition for legendary entertainer, Dolly Parton at a theme park that is now referred to as Dollywood. A year later, she was the first woman to become a feature performer at the park as she played four solo shows at its train station, and in the Jamboree Show. While at the park, an inspired Suzy Bogguss felt it was time to produce a demo recording and sell them while still performing in Dollywood. The demo single, “Hopeless Romantic” was written by songwriter Doug Crider, whom Bogguss met while at the park and eventually married in 1986.
When Capitol Records heard the demo recording of “Hopeless Romantic,” they signed Suzy Bogguss to her first contract. In 1987, three singles were released that saw moderate success on the US Billboard Country Songs charts. Her debut album, Somewhere Between, was later released in 1989. The blend of traditional and contemporary styles earned favorable reviews for Bogguss by music critics and fans. It was enough for Bogguss to win Top New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music Awards. In 1990, her second album, Moment of Truth, was released, featuring a duet she recorded with Lee Greenwood, “Hopelessly Yours.” It earned the star her first Grammy Award nomination in 1991, namely for Best Country Vocal Collaboration, but that win went to Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler for “So Soft, Your Goodbye” instead.
Aces was the third studio album Suzy Bogguss released in 1991 and it brought forth four hit singles that saw three of them peak within the top ten of the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It was enough for her to win the Horizon Award from the Country Music Association in 1992, as well as a platinum certification with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Also in that year, she released her fourth studio album, Voices in the Wind, which earned her a gold certification from the RIAA.
Something Up My Sleeve was another successful album that also became certified gold after its 1993 release, followed by a sixth studio album, Simpatico, in 1994. Simpatico was mostly an album of duets, mainly with her long-time friend, Chet Atkins. After this, she put forth a greatest hits album before taking a break from the industry to start and raise a family. When she returned in 1997, the popularity she had before as a solo artist waned due to the shift of country music styles that edged much closer to the pop genre. Artists like Faith Hill, Martina McBride, and Shania Twain dominated the charts that overshadowed the traditional country music style Suzy Bogguss had become famous for. By 1998, her run with Capitol Records came to an end.
Suzy Bogguss recorded and released a total of sixteen studio albums where the first eight was through Capitol Records. From there, the ninth came from the label, Platinum Records, and the remaining seven all from Loyal Dutchess. She also has two compilation albums to her name, a live album, two demo tapes, thirty-eight singles, and twenty music videos.
Top 10 Suzy Bogguss Songs
#10 – Cross My Broken Heart
On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, “Cross My Broken Heart” peaked at number fourteen and was also a number seventeen hit on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. It was released as the fourth single in 1989 from the album, Somewhere Between. “Cross My Broken Heart” was a mid-tempo ballad that illustrated the smooth harmonic vocals that made Suzy Bogguss one of the fan favorites in country music during the height of her career.
Among the singles released throughout the career span of Suzy Bogguss, “Cross My Broken Heart” came across as one of the most honest in lyrical content as a heartfelt mix of hope and promise by someone who looks at today as an opportunity to make tomorrow better.
#9 – Hopeless Romantic
“Hopeless Romantic” started off as a demo single for Suzy Bogguss, which was written by Doug Crider, a songwriter that became her husband in 1986. When Capitol Records learned of it, they offered Bogguss her first recording contract for their Liberty/Capitol Nashville label. This single served as the debut single from her debut album. As a song serving as a sign of things to come, this beautiful ballad served as an official hello from Bogguss to the world that a powerful new voice was about to storm the country music genre with a style that’s uniquely her own.
#8 – Someday Soon
Originally recorded by Ian & Sylvia in 1963, “Someday Soon” was released as a single in 1991 from her album, Aces. The version performed by Suzy Bogguss came from the inspiration she and her steel guitarist, Tommy Spurlock, received when the songwriter and original performer, Ian Tyson, had them listen to the 1968 cover version performed by Judy Collins. For Bogguss, recording the song felt like living out a dream as it was a song she performed already when she began playing music in 1978.
She wanted the song added to her own albums, including Aces, but met with opposition as producers felt “Someday Soon” was covered too often by too many artists already. However, Bogguss finally got her way and the song finally became part of the artist’s discographic portfolio. Bogguss has since been credited as performing “Someday Soon” as close to perfection as Judy Collins did. The lyrical tale of what seems like a planned out life taking an unexpected turn after meeting a cowboy was a believable performance by Bogguss, at least enough to become a number twelve hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and a number sixteen hit on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart.
#7 – Just Like the Weather
“Just Like the Weather” was a 1993 release by Suzy Bogguss that peaked at number five on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. It came from her fifth studio album, Something Up My Sleeve, as the first of four singles. This was one of five hit singles Bogguss and her songwriting husband, Doug Crider, wrote together and probably among the most emotional. The tale seemed to reflect upon their own marriage as it pointed out relationship issues can prove to be just as volatile as the weather itself.
#6 – Outbound Plane
A 1988 Nanci Griffith country music original, “Outbound Plane” was covered by Suzy Bogguss as the opening track to her 1991 album, Aces. It was the second single released, which peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. In the music video, “Outbound Plane” was filmed at an aircraft boneyard that depicted Bogguss and her love interest in the video dancing around in the boneyard in a carefree manner. The lyrical discussion of a broken relationship used the metaphor of an “Outbound Plane” as a means of escape pointed out no matter how far one goes, unless they’re willing to put the past behind them they really don’t go anywhere.
#5 – Letting Go
The highly college-style emotional “”Letting Go” was a 1992 single by Suzy Bogguss that peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and at number nine on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. It was the fourth single released from the album, Aces. Originally, the record label she was with at the time, Capitol, felt “Letting Go” wasn’t good enough material to record as a country song and tried to talk Bogguss out of performing it. However, when there was spare time in the studio, she recorded it anyway.
Not only did “Letting Go” do well on the country charts, but also made appearances on adult contemporary radio stations that almost made it become a major crossover hit. It did chart on smaller adult contemporary charts, like the Gavin Adult Contemporary chart at number twenty-six.
#4 – Aces
The title track from the album, Aces, was released as its third single in 1992 and peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot Country Song chart and at number six on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. The 1990 original was written and recorded by Cheryl Wheeler for her album, Circles and Arrows. The complicated analogy of “Aces” presented itself as one of the best-favored singles ever produced by Suzy Bogguss and is argued to be one of her signature songs by her fans, despite it being a Wheeler original.
#3 – Hopelessly Yours (featuring Lee Greenwood)
On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the duet of “Hopelessly Yours” was a ballad performance shared by Suzy Bogguss and Lee Greenwood in 1990 from her album, Moment of Truth. The single impressed the Grammy Awards enough to nominate the two artists for Best Country Vocal Collaboration in 1991. The first recording release of this song came from George Jones in 1986, then covered in 1989 by John Conlee, before popularized by Bogguss and Greenwood with their powerful duo performance.
On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, “Hopelessly Yours” peaked at number twelve and on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart at number ten. This romantic ballad featured a mix of realism and hope in a manner that made it, and continues to make it, a couples favorite among fans who can relate to the song from start to finish.
#2 – Drive South
“Drive South” was a single released by Suzy Bogguss that peaked as high as number two on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the highest charted song in her career as a solo artist. On the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart, it peaked at number four. Originally, this song was recorded by John Hiatt in 1988 for his album, Slow Turning, but it was the cover version by Bogguss that turned it into a big hit in 1992 as the first of two singles from her album, Voices in the Wind. Where Hiatt packed “Drive South” with swagger, Bogguss heated it up with country blazing sizzle. Among fans, music critics, and peers, the main appeal of Suzy Bogguss was taking a cover song and deliver it with a level of genius that makes it become her own.
#1 – Hey Cinderella
“Hey Cinderella” became one of the signature songs of Suzy Bogguss after its release in 1993. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it peaked at number two and was a number five hit on the RPM Canadian Country Tracks chart. The jab on stereotypical fairytale princess stories by Bogguss served up as a question how well is the shoe on Cinderella’s foot fitting now. With all the makings to become a cult country classic, “Hey Cinderella” brought out the best in Suzy Bogguss as one of the best female country artists ever to grace the industry.
Feature Photo: SBHandyMan, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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